You can’t help but be taken in by his big smile and friendly demeanor. Most days you will find my friend JR sitting on his porch visiting with his neighbors. He has a smile for everyone and may even play the blues for you on his harmonica.
JR told me that he only had a limited grasp of what “singing the blues” really meant as he shared stories of his childhood. He grew up in a large family in an impoverished and dangerous part of Fort Worth. Life, love and loss deepened his understanding once he had a family of his own. He met the love of his life while visiting his brother in the hospital. It took some time for JR to convince his wife to marry him, but once he did, they were together for 32 years. They had two sons and lived a life many of us can probably relate to – one with ups and downs, occasional conflicts and reconciliations – but they were always dedicated to each other and their family.
Everything changed for JR the day his wife died.
When JR’s wife passed away, he was completely devastated. Estranged from his sons, he turned to drugs for an escape from his life that was spiraling out of control. He struggled with addiction, didn’t have a job and he eventually found himself homeless and alone. JR believed he had nothing to live for anymore, and even had serious thoughts of ending his own life.
In an effort to rebuild his life, JR made his way to Austin. He came here with nothing but memories and a desire to be a better man. He was staying at a shelter and was fed many days from the Mobile Loaves & Fishes food trucks. Through our truck ministry he not only nourished his body, but found healing for his soul through the relationships he formed with volunteers.